The following post is the work of my friends Tim Rosa and Donna D’Ignazio, both long time working participants of the Renaissance Festival industry. We were discussing tips and tricks to hiring good help at festivals, and they shared with me their favorite hiring tool. I’ve included their Preamble … which kind of makes this a preamble to a preamble, but they don’t have an author box for the bottom of this post. I felt I needed to explain it a bit.
The following credo was written by (us) on a long trip from one show to another. Donna and I have been doing fairs, conventions, and Festivals for many years and these are some of the things we have learned.
We have each new prospective employee read it aloud.
If they don’t understand it, we can’t use them.
If they argue a point, we won’t use them.
We feel that this is a clear and concise set of guidelines to a fun job … but fun isn’t always easy!
Once read, we have them sign the document so that there are no misunderstandings, and no disappointments on either end.
To us these seem rudimentary.
We expect it from others and others should be able to expect it from us.
Disclaimer: These are the beliefs of Tim Rosa and Donna D’Ignazio. They are not necessarily those of Fellowship Foundry, Renaissance Pewter, or their affiliates.
Rules of Acquisition
1) Pretend to be cheerful until you believe it yourself.
2) Each and every patron deserves the VERY best that each of us can do for them. Smile and say hello to EVERYONE.
3) SELL THINGS!
a) Believe in the product.
b) Take ownership of the product.
c) Take ownership of the booth.
d) Never ONCE think you are in charge.
4) The four basic types of customers:
a) The small talk
These are the people who you talk to about the weather, are they enjoying themselves, that’s a beautiful baby, etc.
b) Those you absolutely leave alone
Let them come to you. (Don’t even try to make eye contact).
c) The hard sell
You know what they want more than they do. Hand it to them or put it around their neck and ask ‘cash or charge?’
d) The ones you f*ck with
These are the people who are intelligent, fun and funny and have probably been drinking. They will be insulted if you talk down to them. The trick to this is being aware. Be aware of the patron and your surroundings. ALWAYS!
Cursorily, study each patron. Look at their clothes, observe their behavior, their demeanor, but mostly, look at their eyes.
Decide which of the four types best fits them.
This is not an exact science.
The point of this is to make the patron feel comfortable and therefore willing and glad to make a purchase.
5) Fun — If the patron is having fun they don’t even realize they are shopping.
6) Appropriate Costuming
a) Women – May be risqué, but must be tasteful.
b) Men – Shirts must be worn. No cross-dressing.
c) Everyone – Hats, garlands, some form of headgear is mandatory.
d) Must adhere to all faire costume rules.
7) Work ethic
From the start of your work day until the end of your work day, you represent yourself, your co-workers, the booth and the faire. Your actions reflect upon all of these! Conduct yourself appropriately!
If you are camping on site, these rules apply ALWAYS!
You are not expected to be an expert at this from the start. You will have many opportunities to learn and grow. Please do not be discouraged. When you succeed, we all succeed. Many of these skills come from experience and you can learn from others’ mistakes and/or triumphs. Again, be aware. Have fun and help others to have fun.
There will be NO conflicts on the floor! PERIOD! Not between patrons, spouses, boy/girl friends, co-workers, and especially bosses!
If you have a difference of opinion, take it out back.
10) Push ‘em down and take their lunch money!!!!!!!
Your work day starts at:_________________________________
Your work day ends at:__________________________________
Your pay rate is:____________________________________________
Your employment starts:__________________________________
Breaks will be given every day during slow periods. You are responsible for your pass. Replacement passes are $100. There may be bonuses paid on performance and attitude.
Social Security #__________________________
I, __________________________________, have read and understand these terms and expectations, and will, to the best of my ability, perform these and greater things.
(Rhonni again here) Do you have favorite tools for getting the right employees for your team? Let us know about your favorites!
I was with you all the way until #10, “push them down and take their lunch money”. This is a little to close to the popular but destructive saying making the rounds; “hang ’em, gut ’em, then bleed ’em dry”.
When I talk with employees, I stress to them the fact that the Patron has paid at the gate to leave at the end of the day with pleasant
memories. The employees prime directive is
to facilitate every potential customer in
achieving that goal.
Their second goal should be not to “make the sale” but, instead to be an expert consultant in helping the customer to decide which piece would best suit their individual needs. If the customer cannot find in our shop what they want, we tell our employees to direct the customer to a shop that has what they want.
Even though this approach may lose a sale by passing it on to another shop, in the long run it increases the traffic and sales because the patron does remember such treatment, files it as a positive memory and will count you amongst their true festival friends in future visits.
I will open up a flag to show the person what it looks like, then put it down without folding it. If they pick it up and fold it it is way better than not. Won’t break a hire, but sure does encourage one.
I also will no longer hire someone who is late for the interview.
And I call/message references. Every time.
I have a Restauranteur friend who makes sure there is a piece of litter of some sort on the floor, within view of a trashcan, during the interview to see if the applicant picks it up and throws it away.
I see how this works perfectly. I like the four customer types and having the prospective read it aloud. It’s easy to hear a person’s true self as they consider new ideas audibly.
This is excellent. Of course, we could all expound on parts of this. In a nutshell, I’ve always told people who work for us that their first job is to entertain the customer! Their second job is to make money for us! We are all in this theater in the round, and patrons come to renaissance festivals to escape, not necessarily to shop (which is why the jousting and performance acts and not the shopping are so heavily advertised by the festival). So my employees must represent the festival and the atmosphere. And the more your customer laughs and has fun, the more likely they will be to spend money with you. After all, it really isn’t about price. It’s about helping them obtain a feeling (The One Minute Salesman by Spencer Johnson). Huzzah!
P.S. – no chit chat or personal talk in the booth, especially negative, unless that chit chat can be spoken on stage. I like to think that any conversation done in earshot (this means anywhere in the booth) of patrons would be like any conversation you might hear on a situation comedy tv show. Engaging, funny and geared towards being heard. If you can’t imagine Jim Parson’s saying it, don’t say it!
i was with you till number six. but the moment you say “no cross dressing” you lose me because that is discriminatory against the transgendered and as a transsexual woman that is NOT ok. sorry. gender expression should NEVER come into play, ESPECIALLY at a REN FAIR! this kind of disappoints me actually. It is also by the way one of the reasons i am no longer on the road. because of all places i thought that kind of discrimination would not be ok, i found more discrimination towards transgender people THERE than i did in the “real world.” simply because people who have shops out there are out to make money and a LOT are afraid that patrons will spend elsewhere if they see a trans employee. so yeah this is a little out dated. and disappointing.
I hear you Erin. Unfortunately that is a rule often listed in the costume rules handed down from Festival Management. For what it is worth, I wouldn’t consider you a cross-dresser, because I consider you a woman.
We have since rescinded that imperative and I’m embarrassed it was included.
I sincerely apologize to anyone this has offended!
I live in Florida tampa I know I few people who are in in the business of the festival in Tampa I am 70 years old I think I would be able to handle the games I don’t think I can push I like to travel. I spent a few years with the carnival business